• Many studies show that young drivers under 18 years of age are more likely to be involved in a traffic accident during their first year of driving. These road accidents usually result from risk-taking behaviors and lack of driving experience. The Texas Graduated Drivers License (GDL) law was implemented to reduce the number of casualties that result from such accidents. The program divides the process of obtaining a full drivers license into a number of steps, each one gradually preparing the teenager for responsible and safe driving. The GDL law applies to all applicants under 18 years of age.

    Under the GDL program, the first step (Phase I) toward achieving a full drivers license is obtaining the instruction permit. The instruction permit can be awarded to applicants who are at least 15 years old, provided they have completed a drivers education course approved by the Texas DPS and passed a written knowledge examination. All permit holders are allowed to drive a motor vehicle if there is a licensed driver 21 years old or older present in the vehicle. The permit must be held for at least 6 months and the student must be at least 16 years old before he or she can apply for a provisional drivers license.

    The provisional drivers license (Phase II) allows unsupervised driving, but has the following restrictions:

    • The license holder is not allowed to operate a motor vehicle between the hours of midnight and 5:00 a.m. Exceptions are made in cases when the operation of the vehicle is necessary for the driver to attend or participate in employment or a school-related activity or because of a medical emergency.
    • The license holder may not operate a motor vehicle with more than one passenger in the vehicle who is under the age of 21 and not an immediate family member.
    • In addition, you may not operate a vehicle while using a wireless communication device, such as a cell phone.

    If these limitations are observed during the six-month period following the provisional license issuance, the student may visit a DMV office and have these restrictions removed. Convictions of traffic offences or failure to observe the above requirements may result in provisional license suspension or revocation.

    You can find out more about Texas Graduated Drivers License laws online or visit DriversEd.com's detailed drivers license instructions for Texas residents.

    Note: This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm all details directly with the TX DPS. You can visit the TX DPS website or call 1-512- 424-2600 for the drivers license customer service.

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